“When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.'” These are the words of Quentin Tarantino, master screenwriter, master movie director and walking movie encyclopaedia. He is a man who grew up with cinema, frequently taking trips to his local grindhouse theatre in his youth to giddily view an assortment of dodgy B-movies, exploitation flicks, kung-fu movies and spaghetti westerns. He is a lover of film who, luckily for us, decided one day to venture into the medium, armed with the necessary knowledge and an unrestrained passion for all things cinema.
At present, Tarantino is one of the most renowned, beloved and legendary American filmmakers in all of Hollywood, up there with the likes of Martin Scorsese and David Lynch. Since his big-screen debut in 1992, he has directed seven wonderful films that have inspired and beguiled aspiring filmmakers and general audiences the world over; also, he’s won a friggin’ Oscar. Without further ado, let’s take a look at his five best films; well, according to me, anyway.
5. “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” (2004)
First up is the second and concluding volume of the magnificent “Kill Bill” series, which many Tarantino fans consider to be just one lengthy movie sliced in half. While “Volume 1” focused on paying homage to the kung-fu genre, “Volume 2” is more of a spaghetti western tribute, though some kung-fu moves still manage to sneak in occasionally. The superb sequel sees vengeful assassin The Bride (Uma Thurman) continuing her perilous quest to, you guessed it, kill Bill (David Carradine), the son of a bitch who attempted to murder her on her own wedding day. While less action-packed than its blood-stained predecessor, “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” still manages to be a thrilling and thoroughly satisfying conclusion to this fascinating story. But, I hear you caw, does Bill finally get killed in the end? Well, not to spoil it for you, dear reader, but yes, yes he does.
4. “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)
Essentially “Kill Bill“ set during WWII, “Inglourious Basterds” is Tarantino’s most recent film, and is his highest-grossing movie to date. Taking place mostly in Nazi-occupied France in 1941, it tells the story of two parallel plots to assassinate the German high command. The first plot is led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt with a slightly hilarious Southern drawl), a Jewish-American who is given orders to bomb a movie theatre that will soon be attended by some very important Germans. The second plot is that of Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), a French-Jewish girl who, as an act of revenge, plans to blow up the same cinema, which she owns, on the same night Aldo and his soldiers will plant their bombs. The film, which was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay by the Academy Awards, shows off once again Tarantino’s passion for dialogue, as characters chit-chat with one another to relentlessly entertaining effect. It’s a captivating and stylish blend of opposing genres, its splendid success aided by the Oscar-winning villainous performance by Christoph Waltz as a vicious Nazi officer known as The Jew Hunter.
3. “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” (2003)
The first volume of the “Kill Bill” series sees Uma Thurman starring as The Bride, a nameless assassin who, against all odds, survives a gunshot wound to the noggin. After waking up from a four-year coma, she scribbles down a list of the five assassins who took part in the failed attempt on her life, and she’s looking to quickly cross these names off her kill list; in other words, she's gonna kill 'em all dead. “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” is a notably bloody affair, all splattered with human bean juice and smothered with dismembered limbs. At times slow and meditative, at others fast and action-packed, Tarantino's fourth film is a wonderful slice of kung-fu entertainment that never stops giving; “Kill Bill”‘s a thrill.
2. “Reservoir Dogs” (1992)
“Reservoir Dogs” is the movie that introduced us all to the wild world of Mr. Tarantino, and what a promising introduction it certainly was. For his debut film, Tarantino decided to take a look at bank robbery flicks. The film stars Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Edward Bunker and Tarantino himself as a band of dirty crooks who are brought together to rob a jewellery store. The job seems easy enough, but things somehow go horribly wrong when the plan is set in motion, leaving the team beginning to suspect that there is a dirty little rat lurking among them. Armed with endlessly sharp and witty dialogue, pop culture references, strong characters, an effectively disjointed chronology and a boatload of naughty words, “Reservoir Dogs” was the perfect introduction to Tarantino's distinctive style; it’s ear-slicingly good.
1. “Pulp Fiction” (1994)
To not like “Pulp Fiction” is to not have a soul; it's Tarantino's finest work as both a writer and director, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. It's Tarantino's second film and, much like his first, deals with a gang of good-for-nothing criminals. It tells three stories. The first deals with hitman Vincent Vega (John Travolta) as he takes his boss' wife out for dinner, at his boss' request. The second deals with a troubling situation Vincent and his business partner Jules Winfield (Samuel L. Jackson) find themselves stuck in when a job goes gruesomely awry. The third deals with Butch (Bruce Willis), a boxer who ends up on the run from gangsters when he defies a mob boss' strict orders. “Pulp Fiction” is an effortlessly entertaining and beautifully written crime picture that is occasionally hilarious, a little bit bloody and relentlessly stylish. With it, Tarantino created a vast array of absurdly memorable characters, iconic lines and mesmerising pieces of dialogue; plus, it's got a rockin' soundtrack.
By Stephen Watson